Undergraduate Program Frequently Asked Questions


What can I do in a career as an electrical, computer, software, or cyber security engineer?

Electrical, computer, software, and cyber security engineers design and develop new technologies that change lives—from new medical instruments and a safer Internet to cheaper and cleaner energy and smaller and better smartphones. No matter your specialty within electrical and computer engineering, you can help improve the health, happiness, and safety for millions of people worldwide. Learn more about electrical computer, software, and cyber security engineering careers.

What is the difference among the electrical engineering, computer engineering, software engineering, and cyber security engineering majors?

See our Differences Among Majors information for details.


What general education classes should I pick?

The answer to that question depends upon what you want to do with your education and your life. General education courses are typically social sciences and humanities courses that focus on a wide range of aspects of human society, interactions, and life. There is no list to select from (except for the U.S. Diversity and International Perspective requirements, which means you have a lot of options available to you, so don’t be afraid to try something different! Not all courses count as general education courses, so be sure to check the Courses Not Allowed list (PDF) or talk with your academic advisor before choosing general education courses to take.


Do I have to get a C or better in each core curriculum course?

No, you do not need a C or better in every core curriculum class; however, your overall combined GPA for all core courses needs to be at least 2.0.

Where can I find degree requirements for previous course catalogs?

The current ISU Catalog is the 2011-12 catalog. For students who began school before this catalog went into effect, you can find details on degree requirements for the two previous catalogs on the university’s website:

What is the U.S. Diversity and International Perspectives Requirement?

One of Iowa State University’s goals is to prepare its students to meet the challenges of responsible citizenship and effective professional roles in a culturally diverse global community. All students are required to have at least three credits of U.S. Diversity and three credits of International Perspective classes.

International students and students with any academic experience involving a stay in a foreign country should check with their academic advisor, because they may be exempt from this requirement.

Can a U.S. Diversity or International Perspective course fulfill the 300/400-level general education requirement?

Yes. Students who take a 300- or 400-level U.S. Diversity or International Perspective course may use the one course to fulfill both requirements (i.e. a student can take a 300-level U.S. Diversity course and use it to fulfill the U.S. Diversity requirement and three credits of the 300/400-level general education requirement). If you do this, you must still take a total of 15 credits of general education electives.

How do I find out about scholarship and other financial aid to apply for?

Each December, the College of Engineering posts an application for scholarships online. The application typically is due in early February. Students must fill out this application in order to qualify for all College of Engineering and Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECpE) scholarships. The ISU Office of Student Financial Aid also offers a database of additional scholarships students can apply for . The ECpE department has a list of scholarships for electrical and computer engineering majors from external organizations and sources on our website, too.